Embracing Failure

I’m at best a fair-weather friend when it comes to basketball. Something about the sport doesn’t fully appeal to me. Too much scoring? Too many fouls? Maybe it’s just that I never played it myself.

The weather is exceedingly fair right now, with the Celtics tied up with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. I tried to watch Game 4, but I kept losing focus. It doesn’t help that I don’t know who the players are. The last time I watched the Celtics, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were leading the team. Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown? They could be in a boy band, for all I know.

So I can’t share any basketball expertise with you today. But that’s okay because A) this is a tennis blog, and B) I have something better than basketball expertise to share. I have this epic Michael Jordan quote:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.

How fantastic is that? So relevant to everything we do in life. And, of course, to how we handle ourselves on the tennis court.

Too often I allow fear of missing a shot prevent me from making the attempt. This is especially true when it comes to my backhand poach. I can hit that shot decently. But it feels safer to leave it for my partner’s forehand groundstroke.

When I let that ball go by, I haven’t missed. But I haven’t succeeded either. Passing up the opportunity to make the poach cedes my advantage at the net. By playing safer, I’ve made us weaker.

So for the next week, I’m going to try embracing failure. I’m going to go for that backhand poach. I’ll screw it up many times. (My apologies in advance to whoever’s playing with me!)

But I’ll make a lot of them, too. And in the end, I’ll be a better player for it.

Do you love Michael Jordan’s quote? How can you embrace failure more in your own game?

8 thoughts on “Embracing Failure

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  1. This is so awesome! I love today’s blog and Jordon’s quote!! Helps reset the mindset for my future tennis matches! Thank you !

  2. Love it! A superstar embracing failure has to encourage all of us peons. Maybe I can even stop saying “sorry” to my partner!

    1. Re the “sorry” to your partner, I think that’s where having a supportive partner is so key. If you’re playing with someone who’s going to make a face when you miss, you’re never going to want to be bold. I need to learn how to ignore partner negativity.

  3. That quote is so inspiring. You should put it on your tennis bag! Just don’t let your opponents see it or they might get inspired.

    I was at a home recently where inspiring sayings are word art all over the house. I liked it. I might do something where I post a saying of the month in a specific spot. This is a good one!

    I will be curious to hear how your experiment goes. I hope you’ll write a follow up.

  4. Well, here’s a mini-follow-up. I had practice today and my coach told me to start playing like I write. He’d seen my comment about the backhand poach and told me to go for it. I did, and I wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a fail either. Still a little tentative, but if I keep doing it, I’ll become bolder and more effective. (At least that’s the plan.)

    I like the “saying of the month” idea. We do need to rotate these inspirational quotes. After a while, you grow immune to them. I’d say one month sounds about right for a quote expiration date.

  5. How cool that your coach commented on your blog. Let’s just hope your opponents aren’t reading it. 🙂

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